Short on cash but still want to experience the insane awesomeness that is Toronto? If so then check out this baller level amazing guide to the best free things to do in Toronto NOW!
And trust me, this epic list of cheap things to do in Toronto isn’t lame beyond belief and is filled with tons of stuff that you don’t actually want to do.
Rather, it’s brimming over with amazing local tips and insider secrets on where to go if you’re looking for all the best free events Toronto has to offer.
After all, I live right across the border in the States and have visited this incredible city more times than I can count.
Therefore, I really do know where to go and what to do when you want to find things to do in Toronto for free.
So, stop wondering about how to travel in Toronto on a budget and start reading this massive guide to all the very best free things in Toronto.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me.
After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Best Hotels in Toronto
On a budget but not sure of a place you can stay in Toronto that doesn’t suck? If so then this expertly curated selection of mega-rad, super budget-friendly hotels in Toronto is 110% for you.
Not only are rooms well-priced but that don’t skimp on quality are places that you might actually want to stay for more than five minutes.
- Holiday Inn Express Downtown – This great budget hotel is pretty basic but…umm…hi…they have a pancake machine that whips up pancakes with the touch of a button. So, need I say more? Well, it’s also super convenient and located right near Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market.
- Super 8 Toronto – What can I say? This place is very un-fancy and really just offers you a clean place to stay. However, it is conveniently located in Chinatown and does offer a free breakfast. And IMHO free food has got to count for something.
- Residence Inn Downtown Toronto – Not only is this place well-priced but there is a kitchen in EVERY room. Therefore, you can easily save a ton of money by cooking your own food. Add in a sweet location in, you guessed, downtown and you’ll never want to leave the massive bathrooms here beyond. Plus, a complimentary hot breakfast buffet is also included with your stay. And, yes, it’s pretty good! You can also check out epic boutique hotels in Toronto and some of the best hotels in Toronto with balconies too.
Amazing Free Things to do in Toronto
1. Walk on Cherry Beach
One of the best free things to do in Toronto in the summer is to hit the beach! And a great place to visit in the city is Cherry Beach.
Sitting at the end of Cherry Street, Cherry Beach is a large sand beach and park that sits along the shores of Lake Ontario.
It also features a large off-leash dog park, plenty of parking, and access to the Martin Goodman Trial.
In fact, this trail is great for cyclists or for anyone looking to walk part of this 35-mile path that runs along Toronto’s waterfront.
Additionally, this beach is a popular spot for picnicking and soaking up some UV rays!
It’s also an ideal place for stand-up paddling, windsurfing, and a nice walk while enjoying one of the best sunset views in Toronto!
Local Tip: The 121 bus from Union Station takes you right to Cherry Beach.
Address: Cherry Beach, Toronto, Ontario
2. Explore Downtown on the PATH
In the first part of the 20th century, tunnels started popping up beneath Toronto. Now, Toronto is home to the largest underground shopping complex in the world!
And this massive underground maze is known as the PATH. In fact, it comprises over 18 miles of tunnels and features large walkways that connect upwards of 75 buildings in the city, including Roy Thomson Hall and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
As a result, The PATH covers nearly 4 million square feet and is filled with over 1,200 shops, restaurants, and various boutiques. Heck, it even features links to various public transit outposts throughout the city.
So, if you’re looking for unique things to do in Toronto or want to experience the best free things to do in Toronto in the winter that will keep you out of the cold then the PATH is where you want to be!
After all, you can literally walk beneath downtown Toronto from Union Station all the way up to the Eaton Centre!
3. Admire the Skyline at Polson Pier
Known for being home to one of the best views in Toronto, Polson Pier is a must-visit for travelers on a budget in Toronto!
Located in an industrial part of the city known as the Port Lands, Polson Pier offers sweeping views of the Toronto harbor and cityscape. Plus, it’s a great spot to enjoy a stunning sunset too.
The area is home to plenty of attractions including a driving range, one of the city’s top nightclubs, and a drive-in.
There’s even a lovely little greenspace on the pier that was formerly Jennifer Kateryna Koval’s’kyj Park and is now known as Polson Pier Park.
Yeah, it’s one of the best free things to do in Toronto that is named in honor of a brave young girl from Toronto.
Local Tip: Parking can be difficult. While you can pay to park, you can also find various free curbside parking areas.
Address: 11 Polson St, Toronto, ON M5A 1A4, Canada
How to Get There: Take the 72 to Villiers Street at Cherry Street and walk from there.
4. Photos at the St. Lawrence Market
One of the most iconic landmarks in Toronto is St. Lawrence Market!
See, this massive red-brick building is home to over 120 merchants selling everything from fresh baked goods to locally grown produce.
And this place is so awesome that National Geographic actually named it one of the best food markets in the world!
You’ll also love that the Market is free to visit and a must-visit attraction in Toronto since it is the city’s oldest market and dates back to 1803.
So, the building dominates the southwest corner of Front and Lower Jarvis Streets and is a great place to grab budget-friendly food in Toronto.
Plus. St. Lawrence Market is a great spot to snap photos too! Outside, from Front Street, you can grab a photo of the towering building’s exterior. Interestingly, the building is inspired by the St. Pancras train station in London!
Then keep snapping pics as you wander the market stalls and cafes and try to enjoy the sweet smells of the tasty goods!
Also, don’t forget to visit the second floor for a great aerial view of the market.
Address: 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada
Hours: Open 9:00 am to 7:00 pm from Tuesday through Friday, from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday, and from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday.
How to Get There: Take the 1 to King station and walk from there.
5. Take a Selfie with the Toronto Sign
One of the top free things to do in Toronto is to grab a selfie with the Toronto sign!
Because this iconic, illuminated 3D sign sits in Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s city hall.
It also originated when the first sign was erected for the 2015 Toronto Pan American and Parapan American Games.
Then, later, in 2020 a more permanent Toronto sign was created to replace the old one.
So, today, each letter stands 10 feet tall and is flanked by a medicine wheel and a maple leaf. Each letter is also illuminated with LED lights that change color depending on current events/holidays in the city, making this one of the best free things to do in Toronto.
Local Tip: In the summer months there’s a staircase in the square that leads you to an elevated walkway. It’s a great spot from which to grab a selfie with the Toronto sign.
Address: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada
How to Get There: It’s less than a 10-minute walk here from the downtown area.
6. Enjoy Some Art at The Bentway
Underneath the Gardiner Expressway is one of the most unique places in Toronto. And that place is known as THE Bentway.
It’s an incredible public space where art, culture, and recreational activities all come together.
Starting at the Fort York Visitor Centre in the east and running to Bastion Street, the Bentway is a great place to find free Toronto things to do!
And a big draw for visitors is all of the incredible art at the Bentway. Partnering with various Canadian artists, the Bentway showcases some of the best murals in the city! One of which is called Love Letters to the Great Lakes.
This piece alone is a nearly 50-foot-tall, towering mural that sits on one of the highway pillars and brings awareness to the vulnerable waters and life of Lake Ontario.
Visitors will also find other awesome and inspiring murals, most of which are on a massive scale,
Local Tip: If you’re looking for free things to do in the winter in Toronto you can skate the Bentway’s over 700-foot skate trail! On Friday nights they offer free skate rentals too.
Address: 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada
How to Get There: Take the 511 to Fleet Street at Fort York Blvd West Side and walk from there.
7. Go Window Shopping in Yorkville
Known for being one of the most expensive areas in Toronto, Yorkville is filled with high-end fashion stores and posh restaurants. But don’t let that stop you from visiting!
Because window shopping in Yorkville is an absolutely free activity in Toronto! And in between Yorkville Avenue and Bloor Street West you’ll find some of the most bougie window displays the city has to offer.
So, wander along Bloor Street and check out some of the city’s top fashion boutique windows. A few top shops to window shop at include Holt Renfrew, Hermes, and Gucci.
Because we all know that browsing DEFFO doesn’t come with a price tag!
8. High Park
Covering 400 acres in the city’s downtown is High Park. Yeah, it’s often referred to as the Central Park of Toronto and is a fabulous place to visit all year long!
See, High Park extends all the way from Lake Ontario north to Bloor Street. And this greenspace is full of walking trails, gardens, a small zoo, and a café that are all just waiting to be explored.
However, this special park goes beyond your typical city park since much of it remains in its natural state.
As a result, there’s plenty of wildness throughout the park to explore, including small ponds full of wildlife as well as rare oak savannah habitat.
Then In the spring, High Park becomes one of the best places to visit in Toronto to see cherry blossoms.
And then during the summer months, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic or for exploring the beautiful gardens.
But, if you’re visiting in the fall, High Park is a great place to soak in all those stunning fall colors!
Address: 1873 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6R 2Z3, Canada
How to Get There: Take the 304 to Parkside Drive at The Queensway and walk from there.
9. Toronto Harbour Lighthouse
There are a few different lighthouses in Toronto. And one of the best is Toronto Harbour Lighthouse.
Located at the end of the Leslie Street Spit, the lighthouse is a great place to visit. Because from the lighthouse, you’ll take in awesome views of the harbor and the city skyline!
Plus, you’ll find the Leslie Street Spit here or a man-made peninsula that stretches 3 miles into the harbor.
Tommy Thompson Park also sits here and is an interesting nature preserve that is best known for birding.
So, follow the paved trails to Vicki Keith Point where you can check out the solar-paneled lighthouse.
Local Tip: FYI this park is only open on weekends.
Address: Toronto Harbour Lighthouse, Toronto, ON, Canada
Hours: The park is open on weekends and holidays only.
How to Get There: Take Lake Shore Boulevard east and then turn right on Leslie Street to reach Tommy Thompson Park. You can then walk from there.
10. Enjoy Free Entry to Top Museums
Budget travelers sometimes miss out on the best museums. But not the case in Toronto! Because believe it or not you can actually visit many of the top Toronto museums for free!
See, the most popular museum in Toronto is the Royal Ontario Museum (aka the ROM)! And it’s free to visit on the third Tuesday night of each month, between 5:30 and 8:30 pm.
So, stop by and explore the museum’s incredible permanent exhibits, which cover everything from dinosaurs to art – and all for zero dollars!
Another top museum in Toronto that you can visit for free is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Because admission is free here every Wednesday night between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. However, be sure to book your spot in advance online.
Two other museums that offer special free nights are the Aga Khan Museum and the Gardiner Museum.
Plus, to make culture and history more accessible to all, the City of Toronto now has 10 history museums and sites that are free to visit at any time!
A few of these permanently free museums include Fort York National Historic Site, Spadina Museum, and the Mackenzie House – must-see attractions for anyone looking for the best free things to do in Toronto.
11. Explore the Distillery District
One of the best places in Toronto to visit for free is the Distillery District!
After all, this idyllic, pedestrian-only neighborhood is filled with cobblestone streets and red-brick buildings that will make you feel like you’re in Europe!
And that’s mainly because this area was once the largest distillery in the British Empire. Today, though, the Distillery District is now home to unique shops, cafes, and art galleries.
It’s also a great place to hang out since it features numerous art installations, like the famous red heart, and love locks.
And depending on the time of year, it also boasts an assortment of the best free events Toronto has to offer, like weekdays at the Toronto Christmas Market.
12. Riverdale Farm
Visitors can enjoy a thin slice of rural life at Riverdale Farm in Toronto! Plus, this working farm in the city’s Cabbagetown neighborhood is totally free to visit!
And covering over 7 acres, Riverdale Farm has plenty of activities for adults and children alike!
After all, the property is home to various gardens, ponds, and around 2 miles of walking trails.
Plus, all along the trails and at the farm too visitors will see typical livestock like pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens. However, it’s important to note that this is not a petting zoo.
Also, be on the lookout for special events and programming since Riverdale Farm hosts all sorts of things all year round!
Address: 201 Winchester St, Toronto, ON M4X 1B8, Canada
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 306 to Gerrard Street East at Sumach Street and walk from there.
13. Check Out the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series
The Canadian Opera Company features one of the largest productions of opera in North America!
And within their incredible glassed-in amphitheater at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, they host a free concert series throughout the year.
So, stand in awe as artists from around the world perform in one of the most astounding venues in Toronto!
Performances also range from Juno award-winning artists to the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra.
Local Tip: Get there early! The doors open 30 minutes before every performance, which is usually at noon. Admission is also on a first-come, first-served basis.
Address: 145 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 4G1, Canada
Hours: Varies so check their website for more info but most concerts start at noon.
How to Get There: Take the 1 train to Osgoode station and walk from there.
14. Allan Gardens
One of the best things to do in Toronto for free is visit Allan Gardens!
See, this downtown gem is one of the city’s oldest parks. It’s also home to a playground, a dog park, and a conservatory – making it an oasis of greenery in the concrete jungle that is Toronto!
However, the coolest part of the park is the Allan Gardens Conservatory. See, this 100+ year-old space is home to six unique greenhouses.
And visitors can wander through the various greenhouses, which range from tropical to arid. Plus, nestled inside these glass walls are colorful flowers, like orchids, lush greenery, turtles, and even a koi fish pond rtoo.
Additionally, throughout the year Allan Gardens hosts various events and displays to add more magic to one of the best free things to do in Toronto.
Address: 160 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M5A 2E5, Canada
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 306 to Carlton Street at Jarvis Street and walk from there.
15. Kensington Market
Quirky, artsy, and colorful are three words that can be used to describe one of the most unique places in Toronto!
In fact, this place is so cool that Kensington Market should definitely be added to everyone’s list of the best free things to do in Toronto.
See, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, this vibrant neighborhood has plenty of free and budget-friendly things to do!
So, be sure to admire awesome murals and vibrant street art before checking out local thrift shops, cafes, and tasty street food.
Plus, you’ll love that Kensington Market goes pedestrian only on the last Sunday of the month between spring and fall.
Therefore, visitors have the freedom to wander and browse among interesting vendors selling everything from antiques to homemade jewelry.
And one super cool Kensington Market attraction that shouldn’t be missed is the Garden Car! Yeah, this abandoned car is a staple in the community since it is overed in art and sprouting plants.
Address: Kensington Market, Toronto
How to Get There: Take the University-Spadina line to St. Patrick station and walk from there.
16. Downtown Discovery Walks Self-Guided Tour
Learn more about the city, its fascinating history, and a wide array of sights on a free Toronto walking tour!
After all, the city of Toronto offers a variety of free self-guided tours that are known as Discovery Walks. They also cover a wide array of topics and areas, from city walks to green spaces.
So, on the Downtown Toronto walking tour visitors are guided through a 4-mile stretch of the city’s downtown core for around two hours.
Feel free to download the map here or follow the Discovery Walks signs from Bremner Blvd and Lower Simcoe Street – which is where the walk begins.
The experience will then take you through parks and past many of Toronto’s most famous landmarks, like Old City Hall and Union Station.
Along the way, feel free to make stops at information plaques that share history and interesting stories about various people and places that are important to Toronto.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada is now one of Toronto’s free museums!
Set within part of the historic Tower Automotive Building in the city’s west end, it’s both a museum and art gallery.
So, MOCA features art that is both thought provoking and forward thinking. Plus, the museum is home to works from a wide range of artists including international as well as world-renowned Canadian artists.
Therefore, all the exhibits here are as unique as the space itself! Plus, who can resist a free museum? No one, that’s who!
Address: 158 Sterling Rd #100, Toronto, ON M6R 2B7, Canada
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 306 to Dundas Street West at Sterling Road and walk from there.
18. Graffiti Alley
Exploring a city’s street art is a great activity for budget travelers! And one of the top free things to do in Toronto is visit Graffiti Alley!
Running from Portland Street to Spadina Avenue – just south of Queen Street West – is a long alleyway called Rush Lane.
Also known as Graffiti Alley, this lane has strangely become one of the city’s top attractions.
And that’s because covering the back doors and entire buildings here is some of the coolest street art in Toronto!
Pieces include realistic portraits, retro cartoon characters, and so much more! There’s even a whole building painted with a colorful underwater theme!
In fact, one large piece is considered to be one of the most Canadian murals ever since it features iconic people and places in the country!
Local Tip: Graffiti Alley is only 1000 feet long so head one way and then back the other so you don’t miss any cool pieces!
Address: Grafitti Alley
19. The Power Plant
The Harbourfront Centre is full of free things to do in Toronto! And one of the area’s free attractions is The Power Plant!
Built in 1926, the building continued to operate as such until 1980. Now, the building, with its towering smokestack and red-bricked façade has been transformed into a contemporary art gallery.
With a mission to provide space for inspiring visual art and cultural exchange, the things you’ll see and learn about within are as diverse as Toronto itself!
As a result, The Power Plant showcases art from local Canadian artists as well as international ones.
And along with free admission all year long, they also run a variety of free programs and workshops for kids and adults.
Address: 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, except Mondays.
How to Get There: Take the 320 to Bay Street at Harbour Street South Side and walk from there.
20. Movies Under the Stars
If you’re visiting in the summer and looking for the best free things to do in Toronto then how about a free movie?
Because every summer, in July and August, Downsview Park hosts Movies Under the Stars!
And if you’re not familiar, Downsview Park is a massive greenspace just north of downtown Toronto.
So, throughout the summer at dusk, you can pull up a chair to a patch of grass and enjoy a free movie outdoors.
Plus, most of the movies are family-friendly and are the perfect way to end a great summer day in the city!
Address: 70 Canuck Ave, North York, ON M3K 2C5, Canada
Hours: After sunset in the summer.
How to Get There: Take the 384 to Sheppard Avenue West at Keele Street and walk from there.